Amicable settlement to land dispute at Bettageri in Kodagu
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Amicable settlement to land dispute at Bettageri in Kodagu

November 27, 2017

Gonikoppal: The long-standing dispute between Chowrira family and a Bettadapura Kannada Mutt over a land measuring 193 acres at Bettageri in Kodagu was amicably settled on Saturday with the Mutt head Sri Chennabasava Deshikendra Swamiji taking possession of land records. The documents were signed and handed over to the Seer along with land acquisition mahazar documents.

The documents were handed over at Bettageri farm house and five witnesses from the village too signed the documents as witnesses to complete the land handing over process.

However, none of the Chowrira family members were present at the farm house that was asked to be vacated by Karnataka High Court.

The Police had enforced Section 144 at Bettageri up to two kilometre radius of the farm house and had also deployed three District Armed Reserve platoons to prevent any untoward incidents. Chowrira family members had vacated the place facilitating the smooth handing over of the land to the Bettadapura Mutt.

The land records were taken into possession by Virajpet Tahsildar Mahadevaswamy at around 7 am and a Revenue officers’ team led by him began the mahazar and survey of the land  amidst tight Police security provided by Madikeri Dy.SP  Sundar Raj.

Sri Chennabasava Deshikendra Swamiji visited the Gaddige that was established by the Kannada Mutt two centuries ago to protect the Mutt properties. The Seer performed pujas to  the Gaddige.

History: In 1809, Veerarajendra Wadiyar granted 197 acres of land at Bettageri to the Kannada Mutt established by Sri Rudradeshika Swamiji of Kashi Mutt as an Inam (Inam is a tenure). The Mutt was being governed by Chennaveera Deshikendra Swamiji from 1954 to 1967. In 1967, the Seer, keeping four acres for the Mutt, leased the remaining 193 acres to Chowrira Muthappa and Kalappa for a sum of Rs. 40,000 and accordingly, had prepared the lease agreement for 99 years.

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The Chowrira family had developed coffee plantations since then. The land was transferred to their names by the family members who removed the Kannada Mutt’s name in the ownership column of the records and had included the names of 12 members of the family. They had prepared land records for the same and had shared the property among the 12 members.

When the Karnataka Land Reforms Act (Certain Inam Abolition) came into force in 1972, all the Inam lands came into the possession of the Government, depriving both the lessor and the lessee the ownership of lands that were granted as Inam by the erstwhile rulers. This rule applied to all Inam lands that were leased out for 99 years.

After the Act came into force, the Kannada Mutt legally retransferred the land from the Government to its possession as per the provisions of the Act and by paying Rs. 19,961 to the Government. The Virajpet Land Tribunal passed an order to this effect and in 1993 the Supreme Court implemented the order. Accordingly, in 1993, Madikeri Assistant Commissioner, who is the President of the Virajpet Land Tribunal, passed an order to issue title deeds for 197 acres of land to the Bettadapura Kannada Mutt.

Accordingly, an RTC was issued to the Mutt Seer in 2000 and the land was registered under the Swamiji’s name and the Bettadapura Mutt acted on taking over the land that was legally granted to it.

But trouble started when Chowrira family members C.P. Kaveramma, C.P. Kalappa, C.P. Shaila, C.P. Jayasheela, C.P. Rohini, Hemavathy Nachappa, C.P. Chinnappa, C.M. Uthappa, Janaki, and C.M. Dechamma approached the High Court in 2013 against the issuance of the RTC. They had claimed ownership of the land. However, the petition filed by the family members was disposed of by the Court.

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The Mutt alleged that the lessees had cut and sold trees, converted the Inam lands into “sagu” by changing the “Jamabandi” (land records) to claim it as their own.

The family members later approached the Supreme Court and filed a review petition, making the Virajpet Tahsildar as a respondent. This too was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2015. The present Bettadapura Mutt Seer Sri Chennabasava Deshikendra Swamiji approached the High Court this year seeking a directive to the Government to vacate      the  lessees.

Hearing his petition, the High Court ordered the Virajpet Tahsildar to look into the issue and take appropriate steps.

Following the High Court directive and Supreme Court observations, Tahsildar Mahadevaswamy had issued a notice to    the Chowrira family members to vacate the property within a month. Accordingly, the  land was handed over to the Kannada Mutt.

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